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Monday, Jul 25, 2005
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Two ivory idols were seized from a house at Muttathara, here, by a team of CBI officials in connection with the ongoing probe into the theft of sandalwood, sandal oil and ivory from the strong room of the Forest Department office at Olavakkode, near Palakkad, in 2002.
The CBI also arrested Ambili, here, on Sunday. He is the sixth person that the investigating agency has arrested so far in connection with the case. According to the police, Ambili was suspected to have received some pieces of ivory stolen from Olavakkode which he later handed over to different artisans to be made into idols.
The two Krishna idols were recovered from the house of Meera Sahib of Rajeev Lane, Muttathara. According to the police, Ambili had given the idols to Meera Sahib for safe-keeping. The CBI team also questioned a couple of artisans at Muttathara who worked on the idols.
One of the artisans questioned, Manoharan, later told The Hindu that he had only given some finishing touches to the idols and did not know where the ivory had come from or that it was stolen material.
Even as the CBI officials questioned Meera Sahib and the artisans, local people who had gathered on the spot insisted that Meera Sahib not be arrested. This led to some tension in the area. Finally, the CBI team had to call in the local police for assistance.
The Olavakkode case, initially investigated by the State police, was handed over to the CBI in 2004. A number of officials of the Forest Department had been placed under suspension following the theft.
The CBI's probe has also reportedly revealed the identity of the persons involved in bringing the ivory pieces to Thiruvananthapuram.
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